For a long, long time, I took great pride in the fact that I had always finished any book that I started... even those I didn't like. But then... perhaps ten years ago... I took a look at my "To be read" list, and realized that there were far more titles out there than I could ever hope to read.
Taking the approach that 'Life is Short, and the list of book I want to read is Long', I changed my ways.
If I find myself reaching for a book and then decide I need to do the dishes, if I choose to watch another rerun of Big Bang Theory instead of reading another chapter, if I find myself quite content to stop reading in mid-chapter... I put that book aside, and move on to the next.
To the authors of these books, I say "It's not you, it's me." And that's probably true, at least in many cases. There is no book that makes every reader happy; just because a specific title doesn't appeal to me doesn't mean it's a bad book, it just means that it doesn't appeal to me.
Which brings me to jigsaw puzzles.
When I was growing up, the entire family often did jigsaw puzzles. We liked them large, we liked them difficult. And it was a great family activity. But as the years went by, I moved on to other activities. With the recent Stay at Home orders due to the Covid-19 crisis, like many, I'm returning to jigsaw puzzles. Except that of course they're very difficult to find these days. Fortunately, deep in the back recesses of the top shelf of the closet, I found two puzzles. I pulled out the first one -- a wonderful nature scene with a babbling brook and trees. I had a wonderful time putting together that puzzle, it was very relaxing. Sometimes I'd sit there for 10 or 15 minutes at a time; other times I'd pause as I walked by to put together a piece or two, before moving on. And when I finished that puzzle I took it apart, boxed it up, and mailed it to a family member who had also rediscovered the pleasure of a good jigsaw puzzle.
I then turned to the remaining puzzle ... a reproduction of an Escher drawing. One of my favorite Escher drawings - Hand with Reflecting Sphere. And of course, like all Escher drawings, it was black, white and various shades of gray. Except that - unlike the previous puzzle - this one would sit untouched for a day or two at a time. Rather than being lured back every time I walked by, I found myself looking the other way. I found myself doing the dishes, or watching reruns of Big Bang Theory, instead of working on the puzzle. In the meantime, my sister had sent me a puzzle that she had recently completed; I kept opening the drawer where I'd put that puzzle until I finished the Escher, looking longingly at that colorful nighttime cityscape.
And I realized some basic facts. I had considered gluing the Escher when I finished it, even though I never glue puzzles together... just so that no one else would have to put this puzzle together. I decided that I would never send this puzzle to someone I liked, because that was just too mean. In fact, the Escher was so unpleasant to work on that I wouldn't even give it to someone I didn't like.
In other words, the Escher puzzle was like a book that didn't appeal.
So I took apart the small portion of the Escher that I'd put together, and set the box aside. I opened the new puzzle that was waiting. And once again, I found the joys of putting together a puzzle. Once again, I paused to put together two pieces that caught my eye as I walked by.
Life is short, time is limited. Make sure you use it well. And if you're drinking tea, make it a good cup of tea.